Travel SOS: crash data reveals the safest seat on a plane

In Travel SOS, Pam has asked Leon if there is a safest seat on the plane.

Pam is afraid of flying but wants to bite the bullet and book a trip to the US. To allay some of her fear, she’s asked Leon which is the safest seat on the plane.


Q. Pam
All my life I have been afraid of flying, so I’ve never been anywhere that I couldn’t go in a car or train. I’ve been on a cruise and I think it’s time that I face my fears and book a flight. I’m thinking about going to the US and I’m wondering which is the safest seat on a plane. Maybe that way I may not be so nervous. Can you help me?

A. Although many experts say there is no safest seat, recent crash data has revealed that there may be a group of seats that are safer than the rest.

Science magazine and website Popular Mechanics and Time magazine have separately analysed available National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) data for every commercial plane crash in the U.S. since 1971.

Analysts from Popular Mechanics revealed that the seats at the rear of the plane offer a higher likelihood of surviving a crash than those in the front.

Sitting behind the trailing edge of the wing will give you a 69 per cent survival rate, and those over the wing had a 56 percent survival rate. You may pay more for front seats but they’re also the most likely to cost you your life with only a 49 percent survival rate.

Researchers at Time found similar results when expressing the likely fatality rather than survival rate. They revealed that the seats in the rear third of the aircraft had a lower fatality rate (32 per cent) than seats over the wing (39 per cent) or front (38 per cent) thirds of the plane. But if you really want to be safe, the middle seats at the rear of the plane have a fatality rate of 28 per cent.

So, they’re the hard and fast facts. Here are some more to set your mind at ease (these are the ones that work for me).

Last year, for every 10,769,280 passengers who flew, only one person died. A fatal accident only occurs once in every 2 million flights. This alone makes flying one of the safest forms of transport.

And Pam, you’d be amazed at the safety checks and balances required before a plane even takes off.

I hope that eases your worries Pam, but if that doesn’t help you, why not check out our top tips for nervous flyers?

Do you have any advice for Pam? Why not share your tips for feeling safer on a plane?

If you have a Travel SOS question, email and we’ll do our best to answer.



    To make a comment, please register or login
    4th Nov 2017
    Pam, if fear of flying is too much to overcome how about considering a trans-Pacific cruise between east coast Australia to west coast USA/Canada. They are repositioning voyages that are usually in March/April from Australia and from USA in October/November. Check your travel agent or on-line. Even if cannot stay 6 months and you have to fly one way at least it halves the worry.
    4th Nov 2017
    Here we go again. This has been done to death. If you have run out of stories then give it a break for a few days. GEEZ
    5th Nov 2017
    Watto, there are always people who have this fear. Suggest you might be a help to Pam instead of your sarcastic remarks. Pam, have someone check the type of aircraft you will be flying in or go to They list aircraft seating for most airlines. On long haul ( MEL/LAX).Try for an aisle seat in the centre rows as you do not have to get past passengers to exit your seat. My wife and I flew Qantas (A380) to June this year and it was a superb flight.
    Happy travels.

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